Philippines: Hideout Blown Out


September10, 2008:  The fighting with the communist NPA rebels continues, although overshadowed by the Moslem flare up in the south. The communist gunmen are under pressure from the army and police, and are fighting back. The communist rebels are living like bandits, and the government has declared its intention to wipe out the NPA, which has lost most of its popular support after decades of violence. This government offensive is not easy, because the NPA still have some 5,000 men and women under arms. The NPA often assemble several dozen, to over a hundred, gunmen for operations. Despite the vulnerability of these large groups, to detection and air attack, they make local police forces wary. Such large NPA battle groups can kidnap or wipe out small groups of police.

In the south, rogue MILF gunmen not only fled into the hills when the army showed up, but have sought to sustain themselves by plundering food aid brought in to feed the 400,000 Christian civilians driven from their homes by the  MILF attacks last month. The rebels are also seeking to protect themselves from air attacks by using refugees as human shields. The government has ordered the foreign aid workers out of the area until they can hunt down the MILF fighters.

The MILF rebels killed at least fifty civilians and wounded hundreds during their August rampage. In response, the army has killed over a hundred of the MILF gunmen, but hundreds more of fled, rather than surrender. The central MILF leadership has disowned the rogue MILF men, but cannot control them.

September 1, 2008: In the south, a bomb blew up in a crowded bus, killing five and wounding 27. The bombers were an extortion gang (pay, or your busses will be attacked), in this case apparently a Moslem one, which is mixing business with religion here.

August 30, 2008: A Moslem terrorist leader was returned to the Philippines from Bahrain (where he was arrested in July). Ruben Pestano Lavilla Jr. had led a terrorist cell four years ago that bombed a ferry and killed 116 people. Like many criminals, he fled to the Persian Gulf and hid out there, where he thought he was safe. He was caught when he sought to start a business, and officials found Lavilla was on a terrorist watch list. Lavilla was particularly dangerous because he, and his associates, where Christians who had converted to Islam. Lavilla had apparently hid out in Saudi Arabia for two years, before moving to Bahrain. The Gulf states employ millions of expatriate workers, most of them from South and Southeast Asia. In addition to all the legally imported workers, there are many illegals, and a criminal underground to sustain them. Islamic terrorists also use this infrastructure of smugglers and other service providers, to keep themselves safe from police attention. But the police in the Arab Gulf states have been waging an increasingly successful war against this underground, especially the Islamic terrorist portion. Al Qaeda was not only crushed in Iraq last year, but has been taking a beating throughout the Arab world. Lavilla's detection and capture was part of that trend, and more such arrests are expected.

August 29, 2008: The army will not halt their offensive against the MILF because of Ramadan (the annual Moslem month of fasting and feasting).

August 28, 2008: The crash of an air force C-130 three days ago has had a major impact on military operations in the south, because the military air transport is being used to rush reinforcements to the south, where the army is trying to put down an upsurge of Moslem violence. That C-130 represented a third of the nation's military transport (two C-130s, plus two smaller aircraft that each carry about half as much as a C-130.) Arrangements are being made to charter civilian transports to fill in.

August 27, 2008: The rogue MILF groups in the south have earned the condemnation of Moslem nations, which are openly criticizing the attacks on their Christian neighbors.



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